The negative consequences of the ongoing power crisis in the Gaza Strip have continued to affect the humanitarian and human rights conditions in the besieged Strip. Protests against the increasing power cuts and crisis have also continued and spread further during the past days. In response, the security forces increased their attempts to contain the protests and prevent their expansion. During the past two days, the security forces sent summonses to young activists who participate in the protests. The summonses instruct activists to appear at police stations or security offices, where they are interrogated. Activists reported that they were forced to sign documents committing them not to participate in protests and take vague commitments such as “respecting the law and public morals” as a condition for their release.
The Al Mezan Center for Human Rights insists that the right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by Palestinian law. Law enforcement officers must respects and protect peaceful protests from any assault from third parties, be they civilians or security forces, who may interfere with them and ensure that protests remain peaceful and do not harm public and private property.
Al Mezan asserts that the freedom of the press is also protected by the law. Journalists must not be subject to interference or assault from anyone; including armed formations, and must be allowed to work freely so long as they work in accordance to the law, as those journalists who were doing their duty in Rafah, Al Sheja’iya, and other places in the past few days. The public prosecution has an obligation to objectively and effectively investigate any incidents where the security forces or armed men interfered with journalists who were subject to threats, intimidation, confiscation of equipment and detention. The public prosecution intervention is necessary to ensure respect of the law, public freedoms, human rights, and the rule of law.
Putting solution to the power crisis is urgent. Solutions must be found now and also on the long-term to avoid future prolonged cuts. Power supply in Gaza is a paid service. Electricity cuts have serious impacts on other essential services; such as healthcare, sewage treatment and water supplies. Al Mezan urges the two Palestinian governments to put the public interest at the top of their priorities and to keep basic services out of the current political disagreement.
Al Mezan strongly condemns arbitrary summoning of young activists, which clearly aim to intimidate and prevent them from exercising their right to peaceful protest. Al Mezan asserts that the summoning campaign and forcing people to sign documents with vague or unlawful commitments are in violation of the law. Respecting the law is a general duty that does not require personal commitment through the signature of such documents. Al Mezan also condemns the interference by the security forces and any other military formations in dispersing peaceful assemblies or preventing journalists from working freely.
Therefore, Al Mezan calls for: